I had mixed feelings as I strolled through what is the end of an era as we all know it. The Mother of All Toy Stores, Toys R Us, is closing. I remember hearing months ago Toys R Us was going out of business and was immediately in shock and disbelief. Did anyone see this coming?
I texted a few mom friends who also gave mixed reviews.
- Mom 1 with 4 kids: “THANK GOD! I could open my own toy store with how many toys we have!”
- Mom 2 with 1 newborn: “Really?!!!!!!! How is this possible???”
- Mom 3 with 2 kids: “Target toy aisle is better anyway.”
- My Mom: “Wow, any going-out-of-business sales we can take advantage of? Jumpstart on Christmas shopping?”
However, the sounds that came out of my 8-year-old son when I told him the news was dramatic. I gave him a moment to grieve. Naturally, he had lots of questions. I found myself asking similar questions. This sparked us to walk down memory lane and take a trip to our local Toys R Us to say our goodbyes.
I’ll admit, this was a place I would take Caleb to just hang out and play when he was a little younger. It was fun to see him graduate from the baby toy aisle to the “big boy” aisle. Will I mourn the loss of waiting in line with the other last-minute Christmas shoppers this year? I felt team camaraderie in those moments. This was the go-to place for birthdays. Without fail, Toys R Us would come through with the best selection. I used it as a reward system for special occasions or a place for Caleb to cash in his allowance. This is where I had my baby registry nine years ago. I’ll admit, some recent trips I even blocked out extra time to peek on the Babies R Us side. I wanted to reminisce the feeling I had when I was pregnant. I remember wondering what items I would need for the nursery. Toys R Us and I have shared special times.
I will give you a glimpse of my experience before they closed the doors for good. The aisles were mostly empty in most of the stores. There was little to no organization where they were stocking shelves with daily shipments, and with zero order. It was chaos and empty all at the same time. Little discounts here and there nothing to get excited about. The lines were just as long as they always were. The kids were upset everywhere and maybe it would’ve been better to just let them remember the Toys R Us they used to know.
Some of my earliest memories when I was a child were at Toys R Us and I am thankful Caleb will share the same memories. Which is exactly what the reality of Toys R Us is now: a memory. Remember the slogan? “I don’t wanna grow up, I wanna be a Toys R Us kid!” Well, looks like we are all grown up now.
For anyone else a little bit sad about a piece of childhood disappearing, here are my thoughts on how to get through this.
1. Shop local: We should all feel encouraged to shop local and find specialty toy shops for gifts and toy needs. Some shop owners give special treatment and know customers and kids by name and watch them grow up, unlike big box stores.
2. Who needs toys anyway? Let’s think of ways to guide our kids back to imagination. Living room forts, pillow fights, playing outside.
3. Garage sales: Unique places to find toys are at garage sales. It’s a mystery what you can find at one of those! It’s also quite the adventure.
4. Go online: It’s helpful to shop online because of the huge variety and helpful ratings. At a store, you are at the mercy of what is in stock or making a quick purchase in hopes that the toy will work. I love doing my research and reading reviews on what other purchasers have experienced. Also, price comparison is very helpful.
5. Make new childhood memories: Have we missed Blockbuster? We still watch movies. Maybe this won’t be ruining childhoods as we know it. Going out for ice cream and spending a lazy afternoon at the park still tops ANY Toys R Us trip we ever had.